Hi. Good morning. Merry Christmas. Happy Summer Solstice.
Where do I really start my story?
I could begin with the day the plane’s wheels touched down at Incheon airport. Or I could start with my EPIK interview. Or the day I cried at my corporate job realizing I should have moved to Korea like I had wanted. Or when I cried in 2017 because I wanted to move to Korea. Or my first Korean friend in college. Or should I go back back back to high school, sometime between my first job and first boyfriend when I watched my first ever K-drama?
The real truth is a combination of all those and maybe a little more.
The first time I taught in a classroom I felt excited, the most excited and interested I had ever been in a job. Teaching language was like opening a door for others, “this is what could be”. Since my first Spanish class in high school, my unwanted ramblings were almost always centered around linguistics. I’m sure my captive audience can attest to my misplaced passion for present perfect tense.
Throughout middle school and high school, my dream was to explore. That dream continued to expand with each foreign drama I watched and each new foreign friend I made.
People now ask me, why Asia? Why not… Italy?
Asia, to me, is like the Wild Wild East. Unexplored and stocked with opportunities that aren’t offered back west. I don’t really know why and all I can respond is, it’s a different type of energy. I always felt at home with my Venezuelan, Kuwaiti, Japanese, Taiwanese, and Korean friends– maybe admittedly more so than my better-English-speaking European friends. There is something to be said about community-based cultures.
That feeling slowly encroached on my psyche, aided by my increasing consumption of Asian media. So in 2016, in the midst of my first real engineering job, I used my vacation days to travel to South Korea with a close friend. Before that point I had visited a smattering of European countries and while adventurous and enjoyable, nothing had ever felt like home until we stepped into Incheon airport.
What a strange feeling! To touch down in a foreign airport and feel more at home than anywhere before.
It was a fantastic trip and I couldn’t wait to get back. In 2018 I visited again and had just as great a time. Eventually I switched companies for a raise and hoped for the opportunity to work internationally.
Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. Unfortunately, many promises there weren’t the case. But that situation forced me to finally grow up.
I was an adult, I could make my own decisions for myself alone. Korea? I could do it. I could really do it!
At first I searched for graduate schools abroad. I have to better myself, I have to keep moving my career forward. I can’t move abroad without somehow relating it to my engineering career.
So I studied for the GMAT. I took the GMAT. I interviewed with two Asian universities only to ultimately pull my application.
I had realized that I was lying to myself. Seventy thousand US dollars was a steep price to pay for my own ignorance because deep down I knew what I wanted to do. What I had wanted to do for a long time. What I had already been doing at my online ESL teaching side hustle. What I hadn’t allowed myself to want because engineers don’t become teachers and gifted students don’t become teachers and gifted female engineers certainly don’t leave their careers to become teachers.
I took a breath and let the voices go. The application loaded in front of me and I started the application to be an English teacher.
As for the rest, you will have to read for yourself.